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Optical Communications for Small Satellites

Project Description

The Faculties of Science and Engineering are jointly developing a space systems programme at The University of Auckland. This cross-disciplinary effort has brought together engineers and scientists interested in growing New Zealand’s expertise in space mission design, satellite construction, space science and supporting infrastructure.

This project will investigate free space optical communications for small satellites. A major task in the project will be the design, commissioning and operation of a robotic optical observatory and instrumentation package suitable for inclusion in the Australasian Optical Communication Ground Station Network.

The work will involve both instrumentation, experimental design, practical astronomy, embedded systems, electronics, optical theory and practice. The ideal student will have a background in applied physics, observational astronomy, optical instrumentation, optical theory and application.

The PhD candidate may be enrolled under the Faculty of Science or the Faculty of Engineering, as appropriate to the candidate’s interests and background.

For further information, contact:

Dr Nicholas Rattenbury (Physics) (
Dr John Cater (Engineering) (

Funding Notes

Funding from New Zealand's Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment under the Catalyst:Strategic -- In Space 2019 -- is currently pending.

Excellent applicants are encouraged to apply for independent funding from the University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship programme.

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